Picasso exhibit comes to Canada

Almost 50 years ago in 1964, The Art Gallery of Ontario hosted a major exhibit on Picasso. Considering how long it’s been since there has been an exhibition of his works in Canada, it’s no surprise the gallery is going out of its way to make this their best yet.

Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso opens on May 1st at the AGO, running until August 24th 2012, and features 147 pieces that span 72 years of the artists career displayed chronologically throughout seven rooms.

Director of the Musée Picasso in Paris,  Anne Baldassari, who curated the exhibit and is bringing it to museums all over the world, told Torontoist, “I think the AGO will be the biggest museum in Canada for the next [four] months.”

When the Musée Picasso closed for renovations in 2009, she took the opportunity to showcase the vast array of Picasso works her museum is known for. Having already made its way through Madrid, Abu Dhabi, Helsinki, Sydney, Tokyo, San Francisco, and other international stops, AGO is striving to make this incarnation of the exhibit even more memorable, featuring paella nights on Tuesday to honour Picasso’s Spanish heritage, a special themed cafe, and audio guides for children.

The first two sections of the exhibit track the artist’s emigration to Paris along with his discovery of ancient Oceanic and African works. The third section highlights his shift toward the Cubism he was known for, and the following rooms spotlight his descent into surrealism, eroticism and social critique.

Rather than provide the standard text information in every room, this exhibit instead features a quote from the artist, such as “Art is never chaste” in the Surreal Anxiety and Desire section.

“I think that museums exist in a challenging time. I think that the whole notion of why people come to museums is starting to shift,” Matthew Teitelbaum, director and CEO of the AGO told Torontoist. “And we firmly believe at the Art Gallery of Ontario that people come for answers, come for new ways of thinking about the world in which we live.”

Picasso isn’t the only famed artist with an exclusive exhibit in Canada right now.


The Winnipeg Art Gallery currently has the first ever exhibit of Normal Rockwell’s work in Canada – American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell is on display until May 20th 2012.

In Montreal, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has the first major exhibition of the work of Lyonel Feininger – Lyonel Feininger: From Manhattan to the Bauhaus on display until May 13, 2012. It is the first retrospective in the world to examine his entire career.

Starting May 25th in Ottawa, the National Gallery of Canada has the first major exhibit on Van Gogh in 25 years. More than 40 of the Dutch artist’s paintings will be featured in Van Gogh: Up Close until September 3rd 2012.

Sources: AGO, Globe and Mail, Torontoist, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, National Gallery of Canada, 

Photo ©Corbin Smith/Torontoist